Tuesday, 28 September 2010

TV crew shooting something near my workplace

A common sight in London, but a TV drama is being shot around Chancery Lane. Walking to work for my Sunday shift I notice several dozen equipment trucks, vans and cars parked all the way up the lane with dozens more crew members buzzing around, unloading huge lights, cameras, dollys, sound equipment, boom mics, some weird wheeled contraption with massive rubber tyres, lots and lots of what appeared to be scaffolding, and more and more lights. So many lights! The entire street was overrun with people bedecked in expensive equipment milling around and loading and unloading. Apparently they are shooting a TV drama about lawyers on location in Chancery Lane (Chancery Lane is around the corner from the Royal Courts of Justice, down the road from the Old Bailey, and houses the Law Society directly opposite the building in which I work).

The sheer volume of equipment and personnel was immense. The hire costs, wages, parking, fuel and catering alone must have cost enough money to bankroll a small nation. I'm aware that I know nothing about the demands of professional television production, but I began to wonder, surely this is too much? I have no doubt that a larger or more complex production would require even more people and equipment, but has logic gone out of the window here? Is television production such a gluttonous, corpulent beast of an industry that it requires this many people and this much equipment on hand? Is this just the way the industry "is"? it seems the producers are throwing money away, surely there must be a more efficient way to point a camera and a couple of lights at a bunch of people in lawyers wigs discussing their love life?

Of course, walking past a bunch of trucks and some people lugging cameras around is the closest I've ever been to the set of a TV drama. I am not even a dilettante when it comes to television. I do know that there is a lot more involved in these projects than people ever realise, but after reading about industrious and talented newcomers making entire feature length movies with next to no equipment or crew, seeing the outlines of such a top-heavy beast makes me wonder how efficient the television system is. But then again, television - just like commercial cinema- is a business. overseen by professionals, underwritten by insurers, and things have to be done a certain way.

Efficiency is practiced by small filmmakers not for efficiency's sake, but because doing as much as possible for as little financial outlay as possible is crucial to the survival of self funded or low/no budget projects. I know that I'm comparing the incomparable, but after seeing what one driven individual can do with minimal equipment, seeing the commercial system at work is akin to watching a profligate behemoth, devouring everything in it's crumbling vicinity with foul tumoured jaws, all the while slowly dying of agonising dysentery, thrashing and screaming and pissing all over itself, laughing deliriously and drenched in sweat from psychotic public masturbation, screaming at anyone who dares to glance at the revolting spectacle as it ejaculates torrents of blood up the sides of London landmarks.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Before I forget:

The HIGHLY ANTICIPATED video of my cat and dog walking together.

I am an incredible filmmaking genius.

Dirty windows, rolling clouds

My new cable arrived a few days ago. I have been taking my camera and mini tripod with me and filming an hours worth of sky and clouds. I plan also to do some of the city. Then speeding it all up into a few seconds of footage in Final Cut. The clouds and sky footage is incredible. I got some great footage of the sky and city through a window at one of the study towers at work but the fucking window was dirty and now that I've got the footage home the dirty window is ruining the whole shot. I'm petitioning my boss to get some of those high-climber window cleaner guys to abseil down our towers and fix that crap. The rolling grey clouds look great though.

Looking forward to using this footage, and gathering more.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

New Book

Picked up a new book today while browsing the bookstores. Teach Yourself Film Making (from the Teach Yourself series). Seemed like a good intro to the beginner, and had some good segments on lighting. I've still got a lot to learn so I picked it up.

But then on my lunch break at work, with the book barely 15 minutes old, I managed to spill a big glob of chilli con carne on the opening pages.

Fucks sake.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Yet more delays til I can get SHINY on the new iMac

The new iMac has a firewire 800 port, my old firewire 400 cable is now defunct.

Bought a firewire 800 cable online.
Next post should hopefully have some video!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Additions, appendices, PSs and blah.

If you see a new post go up, probably best to wait two hours before actually reading it, as I seem to be failing at proof reading and end up editing the shit out of it repeatedly and writing lots more paragraphs.

I think it's because I'M AWESOME.

Back from my footage gathering expedition

Mein Gott, this mini tripod is a revelation. Packs right up in my rucksack and sets up in a second. It also makes a pretty good shoulder brace when you attach it to the camera at a 90 degree angle (holding it like a rifle with the tripod feet butted up against your chest/shoulder). Got some lovely footage of moving clouds, the in-the-distance city of London taken from the hilltops, leaves blowing in the wind, planes in the sky, odd angles of flowers and weird structures. So much better with the tripod.

Love it.

I realised today that I could easily have spent hours gathering this footage. I didn't have enough tape or batteries for that, but it is a great way to spend a free day. I think maybe I soon will!

I feel a tremendous sense of pride and ownership over this footage, even if it is just of random crap. Hopefully I can put it to good use in the video.

Also, we were walking the dog while doing this, and our 7 month old kitty, Sir Digby Chicken Caesar, joined us as we walked round the block before setting off on our urban hike. He followed us for a good ten minutes, walking alongside the dog. I've never seen anything like it before. Cats and dogs walking together! Madness! I filmed some of it, will put it on youtube!! Link coming soon.

x x

UPDATE: just checked youtube and there's dozens of videos of this phenomenon. But hopefully mine will be better because my cat is small and my dog is huge! Which makes it automatically awesome. There is an equation somewhere which proves that. I'm sure of it.

Computer - dead.

My iMac has passed away.
Long live the new shiny 27" iMac which we bought to replace it. I love Final Cut, so I wanted to get another iMac, and I managed to plump up for the 27" model, which is fucking huge. When working with video the bigger screen allows you to see more, especially with the Final Cut layout. That's my justification. Plus when we get our new place I'm hoping to set up a spare room with the iMac in that can double as an entertainment suite. Plus Dee didn't need much persuading to get the bigger one! It's so shiny!!!!!!

shiny shiny

Now, I'm not made of money, far from it. Living in London isn't cheap and I'm not earning a lot. But we'd always agreed to upgrade our iMac every five years and the time was almost upon us... then the old one died. Plus Dee works as a scientific researcher for UCL, and I work for a university, so either of us are able to get a 10% discount on Apple machines as we work in education.

It's obscene how nice this machine is. I can't get enough of it.

Working on a new video at the moment for another band. This one is very different to what I have done before, no narrative or story, the music has no lyrics and is a sublime dark dance/dubstep/ambient/electronic song and I'm going to construct a video of abstract shots that progress along a theme with visible colours and shapes and images working in time to the music, so it's going to be something that should hopefully work with the song. Or be totally shit. This is all new for me, the previous videos have had an easy narrative that helped me structure the shots, but this time it's going to be a lot more freeflowing. The more freedom you have on a project, the harder it is, barriers and limitations can be a good thing, they can help you focus. So I'm setting myself some limitations in this video to help keep me centered, and to (hopefully) stop me disappearing into a cloud of directionless pretension.

A lot of videos from this genre feature kaleidoscope effects, mirroring effects done in post, and stock footage. I'm going to try to avoid using these myself, and although I like the idea of working with stock footage, I feel like I want to be more involved in the process, so I'm shooting all my own video of skies and cities and lakes and forests. It feels good to be getting out there and building up a library of these shots. I bought a mini tripod so I can travel easy and get some footage, as everything I've recorded so far is just too shaky and disappointing, especially the shots that are supposed to be smooth. I'm off now on a trip to the woods to get some footage. I'm taking this video very slowly. I've been dipping in and out of it for months, but now that Half A Glass is (so very nearly) finished I can devote myself to it. I don't want to rush it, and the things I want to do with the editing will take some time too, so I'm doing some more practice with keyframing and colour correction. I hope the video works, but it could fail completely. I won't know until I'm finished! This is my first attempt at anything like this, an experiment basically, and I'm still a total fucking greenhorn with video directing, so this could end up being a mis-step, especially as I have so little experience working with effects and footage, which so many music video directors are amazing at. Ah well, learn by doing! That's what this is all about! The band are really cool about it though, and are giving me free reign to explore. I love the song too, which is a definite bonus. You may notice me being secretive about this project, I'll spill more when I've finished :-)

The mini tripod is cool, it is versatile and the legs and body can all be extended like a regular tripod, but it fits in a rucksack which my full size tripod certainly doesn't. It came packaged in a massive cardboard box and I almost swore at the postman when I saw him holding it, but it was just some russian doll style packaging and the actual tripod is very svelte and petite. I'm looking forward to using it.

Half A Glass is still being finished off and I should be able to show you the video soon. It's rough, but it's okay!

Well, I'm off to film some blades of grass and clouds and shit! Dee is blasting the Velvet Underground and the sun is shining. I feel good! Shame I have to work tomorrow. I think I'll bring the camera, there's some interesting rooms and motifs in the building I work in. It was built in the 1850s and used to be the public records office, it is an impressive building with lots of old nooks and crannies and books and trannies. Well, no trannies. Not YET. A good place to get some more of my own "stock footage".